Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Changing Heart

When the news broke last week that Lance Armstrong was going to admit to being a liar, liar, pants on fire, I was mad. Livid.

For years, I've been one of the people defending him.

The most tested athlete in the world. Never failed a drug test.

It was all a witch hunt.

He didn't cheat because he didn't have to.

I felt so stupid. Like, even though I didn't know him personally, it was as though I'd been betrayed too.

I resolved that I would in no uncertain terms watch that Oprah interview. Not because of her. But because I didn't want to hear anything he had to say. There was no way to excuse what he'd done and I didn't want to hear it. I was done with him. Forever.

And then something happened at work. A situation that took days to resolve. One that left me thinking so much about the choices we all make and the consequences they can have. And how someone can make a choice that completely changes the course of their life. And how a little bit of compassion can keep them from going in the wrong direction.

There are a lot of very personal details that I cannot share about this situation. Not my personal details, and that is why I will not share them. Suffice it to say, things could have turned out a whole lot differently if someone hadn't pointed out the importance of compassion, even when someone doesn't deserve it.

It was an emotionally exhausting week and when I finally got home Friday night, all I wanted to do was sink into my pillow and sleep for three days straight.

Instead, I found myself turning on the TV.

To the OWN network.

Yes, I watched that interview in its entirety, prepared to be riled up in ever more anger against someone I had long regarded as a hero.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to say that I was reeled in by his words or his apparent contrition. I don't know if it's genuine and I'm not blind to the fact that he messed with a lot of lives on the way to this point.

But I also know that I'm not perfect. I've lied. I've cheated. Not in a class or an athletic competition, but in other ways.

I'm only a saint because it's the name of my church.

Something changed in me this week. I hope it is a permanent and growing change, rather than something fleeting.

I've seen people as people. Flawed. Broken. Every bit as deserving of kindness as you or me.

There need to be consequences when someone does something wrong. There have to be.

But there is also room for love and forgiveness too.

I think I'm finally starting to understand what that really means.


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12 comments:

  1. There's that saying "There but for the grace of God, go I". We've all done stupid things for the dumbest reasons. His was just in the public eye.

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  2. I feel more compassionate when I am living a good life. Its when I am off track that I get all self righteous and judgey.

    I am a deeply flawed person and I hope those I have offended, hurt or betrayed in someway will have compassion on me.

    What a great lesson to learn from such a sad situation. I hope Lance can find a way to make amends with the people he hurt in real life. I imagine they have hurt as much as he has through all of this.

    ♥ theMRS.

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  3. Kudos to Lance for finally having the ball to come clean.

    I'm not above making a good joke....

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  4. I always say there's a ton of freedom in compassion and forgiveness. Lance is going to suffer a lot of consequences for what he did, and rightly so. But he's not a monster we should hate and toss aside. I'm interested to see how he comes out of this.

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  5. This was beautifully expressed. You've really given me food for thought.

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  6. This is beautiful! So much to think about - love it - thanks!

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  7. I think anything I say here will end up sounding patronizing, but I wanted to post something along the lines on "that was wise, and thank you for sharing". :)

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  8. I saw some of the interview and even though I still think he betrayed so many of us who thought he was above that type of thing, I also thought it was a good interview and yes we are all human we all make mistakes being able to admit our bad without trying to make to many excuses for what we did goes a way in mending things........not all the way but it is a start.........

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  9. Great post and so very true! It's hard to remember sometimes that everyone sins. Some in big ways, but all in small ways. We all do things daily that we wish we hadn't done. Compassion and forgiveness are the first casualties of the heat of the moment. Good for you for recognizing that they need to be front and center most especially when it's hardest for them to be.

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  10. I love this post. Every last word. I have not personally gotten all that riled up about the Lance Armstrong thing because while I always admired him, I also never really paid much attention to him. But in light of all that has come out, I do think he deserves our compassion. For a million different reasons, not the least of which being - he certainly is not the only athlete who has gone down this same path. I'm sorry for whatever it was that happened to create that change of heart for you, because I am sure it could not have been easy to deal with, but... I still think your words here are phenomenal, and oh so important for us all to remember always.

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  11. I felt the exact same way you did. I kept saying, "How many drug tests does this poor man have to pass?" I am all about forgiveness and second chances. I do not think he should ever be able to race again though. There's cheating and then there's years and years and years of SUPER CHEATING. The man traveled with blood and urine and crossed borders with fluids and banned substances. I just wonder where he got it all from. I have a feeling some other people will be in some serious trouble and lose medical licenses. I know that performance enhancing drugs are the norm these days. My husband said we wouldn't have pro sports without them. He says no one wants to watch a bunch of skinny dudes play flag football. If everyone's doing it, they should change the rules. I do believe there are still some true athletes out there who don't take anything.

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  12. I am not mad at him for taking the drugs; I am mad at him for lying. Yes, there is forgiveness, but you have to be held accountable. Don't lie!

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"You know what they say. If you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me."

~Clairee Belcher, Steel Magnolias